Analysis Of James Joyce's A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

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The spirit of an art is defined by the aesthetics that conceives it. Aesthetics contributes to that aspect of a work of art which Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man calls ‘claritus’1 – the radiance of an artistic composition. An artist works by the light of his creative philosophy – his aesthetics – that defines the colour of his expression. For Samuel Beckett the colour of expression was that of procrastination and despair. Beckett was not a man of conventional letters and he found the traditional modes of artistic expression inapt for his avant-garde approach to life and art. As an existentialist thinker Beckett strived for an aesthetics, an artistic mould that would go with his way of thinking and perceiving the human condition. He devised a new kind of hardcore aesthetics that would offer hard-hitting expression to his existential philosophy. In Beckett’s fiction, especially in his late prose works, we come across an artistic philosophy that allows him to develop his narrative through negative propositions. This new kind of aesthetics contradicts the conventions of structural dialectics in normative novelistic discourse; and Beckett registers the deviation as he flirts with the modes of prose narratives in his existentialist vein. In Beckett the flair for the existential finds expression in a prose informed by the refractions of a negative potential – the aesthetics of negation. The intensity of expression goes parallel with the
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